Saturday 21 April 2018

Pearson: Leicester still underdogs

Nigel Pearson insists Leicester are still underdogs in their relegation battle
Nigel Pearson insists Leicester are still underdogs in their relegation battle

Nigel Pearson insists Leicester are still underdogs in their relegation battle and admits he has asked himself some tough questions this season.

The Foxes boss reckons they cannot consider themselves survival favourites, despite a good run-in, as long as they remain bottom of the Barclays Premier League.

They could escape the relegation zone for the first time since November if they beat Swansea by three goals at the King Power Stadium on Saturday and Burnley drop points at Everton.

Successive wins against West Ham and West Brom have reignited Leicester's survival hopes and they also face fellow strugglers Sunderland, Burnley and QPR in the race for safety, but Pearson believes they remain the outsiders.

"Maybe, yes, because we are at the bottom of the league," said the boss, who has a fully-fit squad. "I have been advised on what the bookies have said but we have still got to gain points on teams. It is really important that we keep our focus.

"If you can use it (being underdogs), great. It really is about dealing with the situation that you are in and then allowing the players to go out there without pressure. There is pressure, of course, but when the players take the field, they have got to go out there and perform.

"It is really important to try to keep the standards high, if not improve on them."

Pearson has come under fire this season after a foul-mouthed spat with a fan in December and a strange altercation with James McArthur, where he grappled with the Crystal Palace midfielder on the touchline in February.

Leicester have won just six league games all season and the Foxes boss was believed to be close to the sack in February before the club eventually backed him after intense speculation.

And the 51-year-old admits he has changed over the season, since winning the Sky Bet Championship with Leicester last May.

He said: "I may not be the right person to ask. I would suspect the answer would be yes, in certain ways. Hopefully for the better but you never know.

"Whatever you experience in life - whether you're a football manager or in the media - it's going to have some sort of effect on you, some subtle and some profound.

"We all like to think we have an unwavering belief in what you do but sometimes you have to ask tough questions of yourself and also have the recognition that some things which happen you may do differently next time. That's life. Football isn't different to anything else.

"You always learn. You make mistakes, you learn from them and move on. Some of the experiences you have I think reaffirm what you suspected or already knew. There are a mixture of those lessons."

Portugal striker Nelson Oliveira is determined to take his Swansea chance presented to him by the absence of the in-form Bafetimbi Gomis.

Oliveira has won 14 caps for his country and was once linked to a £24million move to Manchester United, but his career has stalled at Benfica and Swansea is his third loan spell in as many seasons.

The 23-year-old has found it tough to make an impression in south Wales but he is set to make his second Barclays Premier League start at bottom club Leicester on Saturday with Gomis sidelined by hamstring trouble.

"I've had to be patient waiting for my chance," Oliveira told the official Swansea website.

"But that's understandable. It's normal that when you join a very good team who are doing well and are eighth in the table, then you have to wait for your chance."

Gomis has been ruled out for between three to four weeks after being injured in the early stages of last weekend's 1-1 home draw with Everton.

The France international has scored four goals in seven games and Oliveira, who has recovered from a training-ground ankle injury in time to feature at the King Power Stadium, admits that Gomis' form has made life difficult for him.

"Bafe has been doing very well and scoring goals," said Oliveira, who has made seven of his eight Swansea appearances from the bench with his only start coming in the 5-0 home defeat to Chelsea in January.

"He's a good player and person and I feel for him because of the injury.

"He's been in a good moment and is important to the team.

"I'm not happy he is injured, but if it gives me a chance then I really want to take it; work hard, play well and help the team.

"It would be nice to score my first goal for the club and I'm always confident in my own ability.

"And I know, the more I play the more confident I will get.''

Press Association

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